Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Peek Inside A Fanfic

I really want to do a textual analysis of a fanfic, just so that you get an idea of how it can be considered an adaptation. There are a few things to consider, however: fanfics are possibly the most singularly-creative works based UPON another person's subject. The author is allowed to come to whatever conclusion he or she likes, without having to base it upon any logical reasoning. Directors are able to do this to an extent, but because they have the set script they have to follow, they don't have as much leeway.

Also, there are DEFINITELY different ways to define a fanfiction. One of the options available on that I love are the opportunities to pick a genre. The author has the choice of labeling the piece when it is first posted: different options available include hurt/comfort, horror, romance, family, a whole range that relate to the subject matter and/or tone of their piece. Quite frequently Shakespeare Fanfiction is based under the genre romance for Romeo and Juliet and angst for Hamlet. 

Also, there's some fanfiction slang that you might want to know. The author writes up a short (I believe it seventy-five words or less) summary about the work. These can be helpful--because you get an immediate sense of whether they know how to use a basic writing tool like SPELLING or GRAMMER--or harmful--because someone can be great at a quick, witty blurb and then totally blow it in the story. Most of the time they're helpful.

Anyways, slang. One important one to know is AU. This stands for Alternate Universe, meaning that the characters will be set in a different time and place, usually with a different story line, and can even change the age. A popular thing to do in Fanfiction is to place the characters in high school so that you get a lot of that extra hormonal-fueled drama.

Another is OOC. There's also IC, but the better authors are less likely to ever state this fact, so if it's in the summary or a note from the author in the beginning of a story, it's best to avoid it from the very beginning. As I was saying... OOC stands for Out of Character, meaning that the people being written about aren't going to be acting with the same personality that was originally given to them. Ginny-haters from Harry Potter are likely to make her vindictive, shallow, and self-absorbed (a agree with that analysis, but now isn't the time for that). Obviously, that's "out of character" with what Rowling wrote her to be.

There's a lot more slang involved in Fanfiction, and I'll probably teach you more as we go along, but for now let's stick with this. I told you AU just because it's the most common acronym found in fanfics,--a bit of knowledge if you're interested in looking into it (it's very cathartic for dealing with a plot line or ending to a show/book/movie etc. that you didn't like or left you feeling unfulfilled)--but OOC is relevant for the analysis I'm going to be performing with you.

The fanfic I've chosen is drabble length, and rather uncommon as it's not a poem but it's certainly not a prose piece. I'm certain you'll understand that confusing bit of logic once I give you the title: The Seussification of Romeo and Juliet. It's definitely an intriguing piece. So let's look at some of the information the author already provides us with:

  • The two genres given to us about the piece are poetry and parody. That immediately tells us it's going to be more lighthearted than any original Shakespeare work. 
  • It's rated K+ (I'll go into the rating system with you sometime later, but for now just know this: never read a rated M story. 'M' stands for 'mature', meaning INAPPROPRIATE CONTENT. On it doesn't--usually--immediately show M stories (you select it under the ratings drop-down options) but if you do a general search it will. Don't read. I repeat, Don't Read. Rated K+ is safe . It's kind of the equivalent of a PG movie, meaning it's going to be kid-friendly. Also something not usually Shakespeare-ish, just because he's so complicated with the language. 
So with that under our belt, let's look at the fine details.  This is where the real anaylsis comes in.

  •  The 'poem' is split into each of the acts, giving a general summary of each scene. 
  • The 'acts' (stanzas) vary in length. Some are eight to ten lines, but another (when Juliet is talking to her mother) is only two. This means that the author is more interested in giving the big picture details. 
  • The vocabulary is very NOT-Shakespeare. For instance, in referral to the ball that the Capulets host, the author uses the word--and I quote--'par-tay'. Also, one line refers to Juliet's 'boo', meaning Romeo. This is interesting in two ways--one, because word-play like this is very Seuss, meant to sound similar to 'beau'. Too, it's a very nickname-y, modern thing to do. 
  • The work is further deconstructed by the author's casual nature. Even though the lines themselves very in length of syllables and rhythm, quite often Juliet is only called 'J'. Another modern, lowering feature. 
  • The work breaks the 'fourth wall' in a few different instances. For example, when it speaks in the Act Four, Scene Two portion about Capulet marrying off his daughter, the final line says "Now Julie is worried 'bout the end of the play".
  • The play on words is intriguing. For instance, the line about the Friar agreeing to marry the two young lovers calls Romeo a 'brood', which has two differing connotations. The first is the fact that he is the son of a prestigious family marrying a daughter of a prestigious family, making them each one of that well-known 'brood'. The second meaning, however, refers directly to Romeo's rather frequent moody behavior as a 'brood'. 
  • Another characteristic is the author's use of nonsense words. There are plain wacky and silly occurrences, such as ' Tybalt-di-dybalt-di-dybalt-di-doo', 'boo-hoo', 'bumb-a-loon'.
  • Finally, the most telling part that it is, indeed, a Fanfiction: The author has the liberty of changing the ending (a common occurrence in Shakespeare fanfics about the two star-crossed lovers). Just for fun--because I absolutely love the ending--I've included the entire last bit:
                   Everyone stares, baffled, as Juliet wakes,
                   And Tybalt and Mercutio! It was all a fake!
                  The families decide to end the silly feud.
                  (Sorry the ending is changed but the old one was crude.
                  A happier ending is quite due.
                  Well, now the story's over so "goodbye!" and "adieu!".

I don't know about you all, but this certainly seems like a clever adaptation to me. The author (who, as an author has the choice--and does so, in this case--to remain only under a pen name) took to completely different styles of writing, that of Dr. Seuss and Shakespeare, and combined it into one new tale. Also, he or she is completely original, because the rhyme pattern and syntax is just enough NOT-Seuss to make it her own work. 

Oh, and a side-note. Doesn't this seem a great way to teach children Shakespeare? Minus the inaccurate ending, of course. 

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